Internet Law

Suit claims Google's listings for unlicensed locksmiths harmed licensed business

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A Virginia locksmith contends in a lawsuit that Google knowingly published listings for unlicensed locksmiths, cutting into his business and forcing him to buy ads for his licensed enterprise.

The second amended suit (PDF) by Baldino’s Lock & Key also accuses Yellowbook and Ziplocal, which publish print and online advertising listings, of knowingly publishing listings for unlicensed locksmiths, the New York Times You’re the Boss blog reports.

The suit claims Baldino’s has asked the defendants to check names of purported locksmiths with licensing records, and to validate the accuracy of information such as the business location. Among the claims are alleged violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the Lanham Act and the Communications Decency Act.

A lawyer for Ziplocal told the You’re the Boss blog it has no legal obligation to take the action requested by Baldino’s. Many businesses have licensing requirements, and if the company checks each one it would have time for little else, said the lawyer, Dennis Quinn.

Yellowbook and Ziplocal also contend the lawsuit is barred because the issues were addressed in previous litigation when the companies sued Baldino’s for alleged nonpayment of advertising fees, the story says. In counterclaims, Baldino’s asserted the companies were publishing listings for unlicensed locksmiths.

Baldino’s lost on his counterclaims in the Yellowbook suit. The Ziplocal suit settled, and a judge ruled in its favor when Baldino’s claimed in a new lawsuit that Ziplocal had failed to keep its promise to try to eliminate listings for unlicensed locksmiths.

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